Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Winner, Winner!

Pesto Dinner!

First things first! I ran out of time to post a picture of the number, but Random Generator selected a winner and that person is....Sue from Sullivan and Murphy! Sue, please email me at with your address and I will be putting something in the mail for you from this darling downtown boutique...

Hope you like it Sue! Thanks again to all of you for your sweet comments and encouragement and for joining in the fun last week! Looking forward to seeing more great Inspiration this week!

So, what do you do when it has rained for several days in a row and you neglected to check on your garden and when the sun came out and you went to look at it, your parsley looked like this?

Well, first you grab your that one of those "you know your a blogger when..." moments?
Then, you remember that long ago you tried out a recipe for
and that you will probably have enough to send all of your new blogging friends some for Christmas along with the Zucchini bread mentioned a couple of weeks ago! I know. I know. Doesn't Pesto and Zucchini bread sound SOOOO yummy together?

The thing I really love about this recipe, is that unlike the traditional Basil Pesto, this one is a lot less expensive! Basil and pine nuts don't come cheap these days, and Parsely and Walnuts are a great substitute for we budget-minded folks.
Parsley and Walnut Pesto
3 cups fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (I usually add more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Serve over your favorite pasta or even try it as a dip! Spread some on crusty bread and melt a slice of mozzarella on top and you have a great appetizer or snack!

Did you know that Wal-Mart now sells a store brand version of Whole Grain Penne Pasta? That is our favorite these days and I smothered it with the Parsley Pesto!

It is a much brighter green than Traditional Pesto but it is still Oh so Yummy! We each had a glass of red wine and if we closed our eyes (and ears) for a moment, we felt like we were on a date!

If it hadn't been for the 2 rascals sitting there eating
Mac-n-Cheese, it could have been!

Linking this up to Foodie Friday

Monday, September 27, 2010

Where We Live...Part 2

*Thank you all so much for participating in the Inspiration Friday Party! It was so much fun and I promise to reveal the winner very soon.
I had a blast picking out the prize!*

We all have them. The rooms where we spend most of our time. Where we really Live! I have seen some of your Family Rooms. And, most of them are not being taken over by toys, tents, tunnels, toddlers, trains and...tantrums!
Preparing to get the photos for this felt like preparing for the Olympics. Ok, maybe not the Olympics. Maybe it was more like preparing for the Fun Run in the 3rd grade. But still, I really had to psyche myself up for this one because to get pictures when this room doesn't look like a Daycare was no small accomplishment!
So, this may be the only time you get to see this space.
Enjoy it!
This is your view after you come through the Foyer. To the left is the Breakfast nook and the Kitchen.
This is how the space looked when we first saw it...

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see those cabinets flanking the fireplace? They need some built-ins on top of them, right?
Well, I thought so too until I got a bid for them and quickly realized we would have to come up with Plan 'B'! We are talking in the THOUSANDS folks and after trying to figure out how to make them ourselves or find them ready made and match up the stain we kind of gave up for a little while.
Then, on one of our many excursions to Lowes we found these shelves...

Our first thought was that they would just be temporary until we figured out what we REALLY wanted to do. But, after living with them for awhile, we realized something...

We actually kinda liked 'em!
I think that built-ins in that color of stain would have made the room really, really dark. I like seeing the painted walls behind the shelves and it fills the space without dominating it.
And at $12 a shelf, it was WAAAAYYYY cheaper!
I think things are always prettier when they cost less, don't you?
I must confess, though, that having the TV showing was a big sacrifice on my part. I would love to have it covered up but it would have been tricky and it was a compromise I had to make!
Here is a closer look at the shelves...
Because of the recessed lighting it is almost impossible to get a picture without a glare and believe me, I tried.
These photos are of all of my hubby's and my grandparents. I love having that little bit of history around the house!
And just because I can, I have to show you a closer look at those pictures on the bottom shelf...

These are from 3 years ago and no matter how hard I try, I can't bring myself to switch them out for updated ones. These just melt this mama's heart!
Where has the time gone?
Look at those faces!
Shake it off, Vanessa, Shake it off!

Here is a Before and After of my Fireplace refreshing
You may remember (or are trying hard to forget) that they had these lovely brass bars that I never could figure out what to do with. Then I discovered you could spray paint them so...
I sprayed their little hearts out using a beautiful Copper color!
And here is the mantel dressed for fall...

Moving on...
This is your view as you look back toward the kitchen.

Recognize those floral pillows?
I showed you the fabric for them a couple of weeks ago!

I finally got around to dragging my sewing machine out of the play-room closet and setting it up at the dining room table. No dedicated craft room for this gal! And, because my rascals are always trying to "help" I have to hustle and get these done as quickly as possible. I think I had them done in 2 hours flat!

How do you think they turned out?
 I showed you in my Living Room how we used cubed ottomans as an alternative to a coffee table to provide us with extra seating. We did something similar here in the family room.

  I wouldn't be a wannabe Southern Girl without my Southern Living magazine proudly on display! I found these benches at my home away from home (TJ Maxx) and couldn't believe my luck!

 They matched the room perfectly and not only provide great extra seating but they also lift up for Storage! 
Those pictures also show the new carpet! 
You don't even want to know how bad the old carpet was...
Oh you do?
Well, let's just say that almost white carpet with a low pile and 2 rascals and one husband don't mix! And because of the width of the room and the aforementioned low pile, there was a very obvious seam down the middle. This seam began to slowly unravel until one day, First-born Rascal decided it would be fun to just pull one of those loose strings in the seam! The lovely ball of carpet that formed in his hand was just the motivation we needed to get rid of it! 
Couldn't be too mad at the boy when he got his mama some new carpet, now could I?
This is the view opposite the window wall...

We have had those chairs for almost 12 years! We bought them soon after we got married and they have held up pretty well!

The mirror was over the fireplace when we moved in so it was FREE! It really helps to give more dimension to this wall and reflect the light from the windows.

This topiary saw me coming a mile away!
I saw her from a distance...we eyed each other...she saw the word "Sucker" written on my forehead and she knew she was coming home with me!

Now I suspect, that some of you were Skeptics!
 I am very certain that several of you doubted me when I said that this room NEVER looks like this.
So, I submit to you as Evidence...
Exhibit 'A'!
Do you see that pile of washcloths sitting there? I promise you that if I had known the girl liked playing with them we would have a lot fewer "My Little Ponies" around this place!

And Exhibit 'B'!

Just couldn't stand it if you thought I was a big fat liar!
Do you believe me now????
And while we are on the subject of rooms for family living, my parents (a.k.a. Nonna and Poppa) are coming into town this week and we are so excited to see them! If you don't hear much from me in the next few days that is why. I know you all wait around with baited breath for my clever and witty comments to appear on your posts!
Have a great week and be sure to check back in the next couple of days to hear who the winner is!

I'm linking up with these parties!

Fabric Fun Thursday
Before and After
Tabletop Tuesday
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Inspiration Friday Party No. 5!

An Ode to 100...

100...a Weight I will NEVER see again.

100...the number of Legos I need to pick up to see the carpet in my son's room.

100...the number of times someone yells, "MOMMY!" every day.

100...the number of times we check "the score" as we watch TV every night.

100...the number of times I have asked my daughter if she wants to try and sit on the potty.

100...the number of times my daughter has said "NO!" when I have asked her if she wants to try to sit on the potty.

100+...the number of New Friends I have made here in Blogland!

(Boy, you guys are a good-lookin' bunch! This is actually about the right ratio of guys to gals that I have as Blog friends!)

I have to be honest here. I kind of didn't know what to say or do when the number 100 popped up. Does it really MEAN something? So, I didn't say anything for a couple of days. You see, when I started this little ol' blog I never had any other intention except to see if my brain was functioning and if I could still speak and write in complete sentences.
 When you hear "The Wheels on the Bus" over and over and over I think that brain cells begin to die!
 I really wrestled with the decision to start a Blog, though. I thought it sounded fun but I knew that it was also slightly self-indulgent. And self-indulgent can often lead to those other "self" words. Selfish...self-focused...does that make sense? It is a line I didn't and DON'T want to cross.

That being said, I never even dreamed that it would be quite so much fun and that I would get the honor of meeting all of you wonderful people. It is truly a privilege to have you part of my life in this way and to get to peek into your lives as well.
Only when I am invited, of course!
I told my husband when I started noticing the number of Friends (still can't say Followers without thinking of a cult!) growing that it is kind of like having someone other than your parents tell you that you look pretty! You know what I mean? 
You all put a smile on my face with your comments and your encouragement and this blog has given me a creative outlet that I'm not sure I really knew that I needed!

You see, I love being a Homemaker in the truest sense of the word. I want my home to be a warm and welcoming place for all who enter. But most importantly, I want it to be a Haven for my family from the rest of the world!

And, all of you talented and creative folks have inspired me with many new ways to do just that!
So THANK YOU! You guys Rock!
And, to really show you my appreciation, I am going to do my very first Giveaway!
No, it won't be from CSN, it will just be from my heart!

What could be inside this pretty little box??? Well, I don't know really because this is a Clip Art stock photo. But if you win, YOUR pretty little box will hold some treasures from my most favorite downtown French Boutique!

Here is how you can enter to win..
1. Leave me a comment stating that you are currently a "Friend" or a becoming a new "Friend" to this Southern Girl at Heart.
2. Link up to the Inspiration Friday Party and leave me a comment letting me know that you joined in the fun!
3. I don't do Facebook or the Twitter so those are the only 2 ways you can enter. I can hear you all screaming "WHAT?" at your screens. I know...I know...I'm kinda backwoods that way.

After the party is over I will figure out how to use that new-fangled Random Generator thingy and one of you will be getting something fun in your mail very soon!

Now, how about we have a Party??!!!
You all blow me away every week with the Inspiring and Creative ways you seek to add beauty to your lives and your homes! I'll admit, sometimes I feel like a dud when I see some of the things you do. Especially those crazy crafty things that we all know are not how I am...ahem..."Gifted"! So, please share some of your Inspiration and talent with the rest of us!

But, please, oh please, don't ever feel pressured to do so. There are A LOT of "Linky Parties" out there and I know we are all very busy! I so appreciate each and every one of you who takes the time to join in and truly feel that even if it is just me and my crazy relatives (no offense to my lovely family members!) who link up, it is still so much fun and so Inspirational!

Here is how to link up...
1. Add your Permalink to your entry but not your General Blog Address. To get your Permalink, click on the title of the blog post you are wanting to submit and copy and paste the address into the URL box. You will also have to add your address but it will not be visible to anyone else.
2. Do not try and Link up until you have actually published that particular post on your blog.
3. Please link back to the host blog, Southern In My Heart, so that those who visit your blog will be able to find some wonderful Inspiration from everyone else!

Thank you from the bottom of my Southern Lovin' Heart,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Taking the Plunge!

Can Adoption be Funny?
Well, when you have a (then) four year old in your life, it sure can be! I just have to share this story with you all before I tell you what is meant by the title,

"Taking the Plunge".

 When we were in the middle of the 'waiting' stage for our second Adoption, we began to slowly, cautiously prepare our first Rascal for the prospect of a new sibling. You see, when you Adopt, you have absolutely no idea of timeframe and we didn't want him to think it was going to happen soon, but we also didn't want to spring it on him. "Surprise! You had no idea this was coming but here is your new Sister!"
We had brief conversations about it and one of them went just like this...
Rascal 1 and Mommy in the car together.

Mommy: "So buddy, you remember how we talked about the fact that we adopted you and how special that makes you?"

Rascal 1: "Uh-huh...look at that bus over there mommy!"

Mommy: "And you know that you grew in your birthmother's tummy and that God told her that she was to give you to us so that we could be your mommy and daddy forever and ever!"

Rascal 1: "Yeah, I know I'm special mommy, blah, blah, blah. Can we go to McDonald's today?"

Mommy: "No, not today buddy. Well, did you know that mommy and daddy are praying that we will get to adopt another baby and that this will make you a Big Brother?"

Rascal 1: "I'm going to be a big brudder?"

Mommy: "That's right! How cool is that going to be! Did you also know that this baby will grow in her birthmother's tummy too? But she will have a different birthmother than you have. And, we will adopt her too and be her forever family!"

Rascal 1: silence....

Mommy: "So, what do you think about all of this buddy? Do you think that sounds like a good idea?"

Rascal 1: "Nah...I just think we should get the baby at COSTCO!"

Mommy: Trying to suppress hysterical laughter while keeping the car on the road..."That would be handy, huh buddy?"
I'm picturing a couple walking through the Megastore with rows and rows of babies amidst the vats of mayonnaise and batteries!
"I'd like that one right there! The one with the big brown eyes!"
If only it were that easy...

We were at a wedding recently and to describe it in all it's glory would really need an entire separate post. Picture rows of folding chairs outside in a front yard right next to pup-tents and campers with 6 large dogs running around, guests sitting down with cans of Miller in their hands and 'cigs' behind their ears, the bride dancing up the aisle and then when pronounced husband and wife, racing back down the "aisle" to grab her fiddle! At one point my husband said, "Isn't that the guy who married them?" I turned to see that the officiant (loose term) had changed from his suit into cut-off camo shorts and boots with his long mane of hair set free from its pony-tail. Oh, and a 'cig' tucked behind his ear! I'm not making this up and couldn't even if I tried!

But, at this most sacred and reverent of occasions, we sat with some great couples and eventually began talking about all of our kiddos. One couple had also adopted their son and they began to ask about our story and also to pick our brains for tips for talking to your kids about their adoptions (their son is much younger than ours). After we shared some of our journey with them, the wife said "You know, you really should be writing all of this down!"
So, I'm taking her advice and TAKING THE PLUNGE!

This is not just a story about Infertility and Adoption. This is a story about Faith.

For better or for worse, this is the first installment of our
Labor of the Heart!

Labor. What do you think of when you hear this word? If you are like me, my mind immediately conjures up images of a Hospital Delivery Room. A woman straining to bring new life into the world. A husband coaching, cheering, encouraging and hopefully not passing out! But for me, labor has another meaning. One definition states that it is “to suffer from distress or a disadvantage.” Still another says that it is “to strive painstakingly or to proceed with great effort.” Now those are definitions I can relate to!
Ours may not have been a physical labor,
but it was still a labor of the heart.
When it all began we were footloose and fancy free! That is what being a newlywed is all about right? We were deeply in love, had great jobs, disposable income (those were the days!), and had just bought our first home. A town-home that had previously been a rental and we lovingly began to bring back to life. What more could you ask for right? And yet, it was always there. That nagging feeling that we could never quite shake. We never totally felt that unabashed hope for the future that newlyweds should feel. A future that seems uncomplicated and perfect with all of the pieces of the puzzle falling into place. Travel, buy a real house, white picket fence and all, and have a baby...right? Isn't that the way it is supposed to go? "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage." Sweet, simplistic and uncomplicated. And totally unrealistic! Where did this little poem come from anyway? And, why do we grow up thinking that our lives are going to be just that easy?

To be continued...

I'm linking up with Tuesdays Unwrapped

Monday, September 20, 2010

Master "Sweet"

Technically speaking, I should be showing you Part 2 of
"Where we Live" and there would be pictures of our Family Room. But, you know what? I don't want to!
I took the pictures and they didn't look so great and I need to figure out the right lighting for that space. And, since this blog is truely the ONLY thing that is all mine (not even the bathroom is sacred anymore!), I am going to take full advantage of it and exercise my right to change my mind.

So, how about we head upstairs? Errr...ummm...want to see my Bedroom? know, there really is no way to introduce this space without it sounding slightly creepy!
That being said, do you still want to see our Master Suite?
This is how the room looked when we first laid eyes on it.
At first I was disappointed to find that I only had one picture of this room "Before", but really I think I am sparing you all!
No that isn't dirt on the walls, it is a hideous lovely Faux Paint Treament in multiple shades of brown!

Now, after A LOT of paint and a little bit of love, this is what you will see when you reach the landing at the top of the stairs.
Come on in a little further. Oops.
There is the creepy factor again!

The color palette is essentially the same as in the rest of the house but the hues are slightly different...softer...more calming.
The red changes to more of an auburn tone, rusty and warm.

The Sleigh bed was hand-crafted by our very own Renaissance Man (my father-in-law) and was a Wedding Gift to us!
Here are some of the details you won't want to miss...
 Intricate scroll-work accents
And our Monogram placed on the foot-board. And yes, our initials are actually on the same side of the bed we sleep on. That's not creepy, that's just Cute!

This beautiful Setee was a Craiglist find and fits perfectly at the foot of the bed. It is actually from Ballard Designs and we couldn't believe our luck in finding it!
Even loved the stripes!
Across from the setee sits this...
This was the first piece of furniture we bought after we purchased our first little townhome in California. It has had many uses but I think I like it here the best!

We had to buy A LOT of beer and pizza to thank our friends who had to move this sucker up the stairs!
They still won't let us forget it.
I found the fabric for the pillows and the curtain panels in the Remnant section at a Fabric Store. Someone had custom ordered it and then changed their mind. The original price was $30/yd and with all of the discounts, I got it for...drumroll...$8/yd! I ended up only spending around $40 total and got 2 panels and 2 pillows out of it! This is a closer look at the fabric...
I love that it has a toile effect but not in a typical way.
This is a look at the other fabrics in the room. There are actually 5 different patterns in this space and yet I think they all blend together so nicely. I made the front pillow and the 2 European Shams in the back when we lived in our previous home.
This bed-side table is one of my latest Scores!

I had been trying to find something that was taller and wider to fit the space better since we only have a Queen sized bed. I spotted this at Tuesday Morning and it was a bit out of my budget. I did, however, notice that there were some scratches on it and asked if they would mark it down. They said "Sure", they would give me a 30% discount. Yipee! Then, when we took it to the register they said it was supposed to have been marked down already by another 30% so they gave me that discount too!

Well, then I needed to find something to match the height on the other side and I finally found a round table that would do the trick. I knew I wanted it to be skirted and I remembered this tablecloth I had made years ago. I dug it out of my fabric bin and hemmed it right up! Gotta love FREE!
Another Freebie was this great writing desk. Our realtor was moving some of her mother's things out of storage and asked if we wanted it! DID WE?!! I love the lines of it and that it adds another wood tone to the room.
Here is a closer look with better lighting.

It holds some of my favorite photos, a poem my grandmother wrote for me and my sister when we were little, and a framed painting my hubby brought back for me from Europe when we were still dating!
Here is a close-up of the plates that hang on the wall.
I found the set of 4 at Ross for $5! And yes, I do realize now that I see them in this photo that they are each just slightly crooked!

Why don't we just call it adding character.

And finally, this room had yet another one of these lovelies hanging from the ceiling.
And, this is the new REAL lovely!

We received it as a hand-me-down and added the ceiling medallion to give it some more interest.

Here it is all lit up in its blazing glory!

Thanks so much for letting me take you inside my bedroom
on a tour of our Master Suite!
Next week, I hope to finally show you our Family Room if I can actually wade through all of the toys, books, herds of animals, ride-on toys, doll strollers, etc. Maybe THAT is why the pictures turned out so badly!
I'm linking up to these parties!
Have a great Monday from this
Southern Girl at Heart,